Nepal floods and landslides kill at least 77

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) -The death toll after three days of heavy rain in Nepal triggered landslides and flash floods rose to 77 on Wednesday after rescuers recovered 34 more bodies, authorities said.

Twenty-four deaths have been reported in the Panchthar district of east Nepal bordering India, 13 in neighboring Ilam and 12 in Doti in west Nepal, interior ministry official Dil Kumar Tamang said. Others died elsewhere in west Nepal.

The ministry said 22 people were injured and 26 were missing.

Authorities said the government would provide $1,700 as relief to the families of each dead victim and free treatment for the injured.

About 350 km (220 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu, persistent heavy rains were hampering efforts to reach Seti, a village in west Nepal where 60 people have been marooned by floods for two days.

“Rescuers were unable to reach the village due to bad weather and continuous rains yesterday. Rescue efforts are continuing today,” Police spokesman Basanta Kunwar told Reuters.

Television channels showed rice paddy crops submerged or washed away, and rivers sweeping away bridges, roads, houses and the runway of an airport in the city of Biratnagar.

Flash floods and landslides are common in Nepal during the monsoon season from mid-June through September.

Authorities have warned of more rain in the next few days.

There are “chances of heavy rainfall in some places and light to moderate snowfall” in the eastern mountainous areas, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology said in a forecast for the next two days.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Giles Elgood)

More than 20 dead after floods hit southern India

By Jose Devasia

KOCHI, India (Reuters) – Leaders in the southern Indian state of Kerala opened near-overflowing dams on Monday after at least 22 people died when heavy rains lashed the region over the weekend.

Rainfall across Kerala triggered flash floods and landslides in several areas, with the Indian army and navy called out to rescue residents.

Opening dams could reduce the risk of potentially catastrophic overflows like those partly blamed for the state’s worst floods in a century in 2018, when at least 400 people were killed and 200,000 displaced. But by releasing water downstream, areas already experiencing floods could suffer more.

Authorities have already opened smaller dams to prevent flooding, Kerala Power Minister K Krishnankutty said in a statement, while the state’s largest, the Idukki dam, will also be opened on Tuesday morning local time.

Sheeba George, the top official in Idukki district, told local media that dozens of families had been evacuated from their homes ahead of the dam openings.

At least 13 people were killed by a landslide in the village of Kuttikkal, officials and witnesses said.

“There were four landslides that happened there yesterday, the hill behind me, which brought water and other items downwards,” a local resident told Reuters partner ANI on Sunday, standing in front of a now-barren hillside.

P.K. Jayasree, the top government official in Kottayam district where the landslide took place, said six of the dead were from a single family.

Kerala will receive further widespread rain, including isolated heavy downpours in many areas, for two to three days from Oct. 20, the state government said on Monday.

(Reporting Jose Devasia in Kochi; Writing by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Peter Graff and Mark Heinrich)

Cyclone Kompasu strikes Philippines, kills 9

MANILA (Reuters) – Nine people have been killed in the Philippines and 11 were missing on Tuesday due to floods and landslides caused by heavy rain from tropical cyclone Kompasu, the national disaster agency said.

Kompasu, with maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour, had absorbed remnants of an earlier cyclone before making landfall in the Philippines on Monday evening. Nearly 1,600 people were evacuated.

The disaster agency said it was verifying information from its regional units that reported four people killed in landslides in northern Benguet province and five killed in flash floods in Palawan, an island province in the country’s southwest.

Authorities were conducting search and rescue operations for 11 people missing mostly after landslides.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands is hit by about 20 storms or typhoons annually, bringing heavy rains that trigger deadly landslides.

President Rodrigo Duterte was monitoring the government’s disaster response, his spokesperson, Harry Roque said on Tuesday.

Rescue personnel were at the scene, while power and water restoration and road clearing was ongoing, he added.

Kompasu, the 13th tropical storm to enter the Philippines, is expected to leave its territory on Tuesday, the state weather agency said.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty)

Aid struggles to reach remote areas of Haiti quake zone

By Laura Gottesdiener

MARCELINE, Haiti (Reuters) – Damaged or impassable roads were complicating efforts on Friday to deliver aid to more remote parts of Haiti devastated by an earthquake last weekend that killed more than 2,000 people.

On the main inland mountain road between the southwestern city of Les Cayes and Jeremie to its northwest, two of the hardest hit urban areas, landslides and cracks in the tarmac made it harder to dispatch aid to farming communities now grappling with food insecurity and access to potable water.

The route was littered with boulders and the occasional stranded truck, according to a Reuters reporter.

The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti is still recovering from a 2010 quake that killed over 200,000 people.

The country was pitched into deeper instability last month by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, by what authorities say was a group of largely Colombian mercenaries.

A powerful storm that hit Haiti earlier in the week, triggering landslides, has also made it harder to find victims of last Saturday’s quake, which destroyed tens of thousands of homes and claimed the lives of at least 2,189 people.

It also injured 12,200 people and the casualty toll is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue, authorities say.

In the village of Marceline, 25 km (16 miles) north of Les Cayes, a dozen residents were digging out a vast pile of rubble of what was once a handful of houses. The air smelled of decomposing bodies, and residents said that at least one woman who lived in one of the buildings was still missing.

Many of the hospitals remained saturated in the worst-hit areas of Haiti. In Les Cayes’ airport, helicopters ferried the injured to the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The recent kidnapping of two doctors in the capital, including one of the few trained orthopedic surgeons in the country, has further impeded recovery efforts. Some hospitals decided to shut down temporarily in protest, demanding that the gangs free the doctors, local media reported.

“(The kidnapping) paralyzes the care that the hospital was beginning to provide to earthquake victims,” Radio RFM said, citing the large Bernard Mevs hospital, where the orthopedic surgeon worked.

(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener; Additional reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Torrential rains kill over 160 in India, dozens trapped in landslides

By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Rescue teams in India were digging through thick sludge and debris on Monday to find over 60 people trapped in landslides caused by torrential monsoon rains that have so far claimed more than 160 lives four days.

The western states of Maharashtra and Goa, as well as Karnataka and Telangana in the south are the most affected by heavy rains that have flooded croplands over thousands of hectares and forced authorities to move over 230,000 people to safer places.

In Maharashtra, 149 people have died mainly in landslides and other monsoon related accidents, while another 64 are still missing, the state government said in a statement.

“We are trying hard to rescue people trapped under landslide debris in Raigad and Satara but the possibility of evacuating them alive is remote. They are trapped under mud for more than three days,” said a senior official with the state government, referring to two badly affected districts.

Rescuers couldn’t reach affected villages quickly because approach roads were cut off by overflowing rivers and landslides, officials said.

In Karnataka and Telangana, more than a dozen people died because of floods but waters in the main Krishna and Godavari rivers are receding, authorities said.

In Goa, a hugely popular tourist destination on the western coast, hundreds of houses were damaged as the state recorded the worst floods in nearly four decades, the state’s chief minister Pramod Sawant said.

Rains are easing on the west coast and that will help in rescue operations, said a Pune-based senior scientist with the India Meteorological Department.

“This week also, the west coast will receive rainfall, but the intensity would be much lower compared to the last week,” he said.

Last week, parts of India’s west coast received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rainfall over 24 hours, forcing authorities to evacuate people from vulnerable areas as they released water from dams that were threatening to overflow.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

At least 112 dead in India as rains trigger floods, landslides

By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI (Reuters) -At least 112 people have died in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, authorities said on Friday, after torrential monsoon rains caused landslides and flooded low-lying areas, cutting off hundreds of villages.

Parts of India’s west coast received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rainfall over 24 hours, forcing authorities to evacuate people from vulnerable areas as they released water from dams that were threatening to overflow.

“Unexpected very heavy rainfall triggered landslides in many places and flooded rivers,” Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who heads Maharashtra’s state government, told journalists.

“Dams and rivers are overflowing. We are forced to release water from dams, and, accordingly, we are moving people residing near the river banks to safer places.”

The navy and army were helping with rescue operations in coastal areas, he added.

At least 38 people were killed in Taliye, 180 km (about 110 miles) southeast of the financial capital Mumbai, when a landslide flattened most of the small village, state government officials said.

In nine other landslides in other parts of Maharashtra 59 people died and another 15 were killed in accidents linked to the heavy rainfall, they said.

A few dozen people were also feared to have been trapped in landslides in Satara and Raigad districts, said a state government official who asked not to be named.

“Rescue operations are going on at various places in Satara, Raigad and Ratnagiri. Due to heavy rainfall and flooded rivers, we are struggling to move rescue machinery quickly,” he said.

Thousands of trucks were stuck on a national highway linking Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, with the road submerged in some places, another Maharashtra government official said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of villages and towns were without electricity and drinking water, he said.

Rivers were also overflowing in the neighboring southern states of Karnataka and Telangana where authorities were monitoring the situation, government officials there said.

Seasonal monsoon rains from June to September cause deaths and mass displacement across South Asia every year, but they also deliver more than 70% of India’s rainfall and are crucial for farmers.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Joe Bavier and Giles Elgood)

Heavy rains cripple Indian cities; at least 35 killed

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s capital New Delhi and the main financial center of Mumbai were drenched with heavy rain on Monday, a day after at least 35 people were killed across the country in landslides and house collapses triggered by downpours.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy to very heavy rain in north India, including New Delhi, over the next two days. In Mumbai, the IMD has issued a heavy rain and thunderstorm alert for the city and surrounding districts.

At least 30 people were killed on Sunday in three Mumbai suburbs when several houses collapsed in landslides after rain.

At least three people were also killed when a house collapsed in the northern state of Uttarakhand after a downpour, Reuters partner agency ANI reported.

In a separate incident on Sunday evening, a three-story building collapsed in the city of Gurugram, bordering Delhi. Two people were killed and rescue operations were still underway.

Several low-lying areas of Delhi and Mumbai were flooded and Twitter was filled with images of submerged vehicles and people wading through waist-deep water.

Mumbai’s water treatment plant in the suburbs was flooded on Sunday forcing the municipal council to impose water cuts in some parts of the city.

India is in the midst of its annual rainy season but the downpours over the past few days have been particularly heavy.

Extreme weather has hit several parts of the world in recent weeks with flooding in Europe, dam collapses in China and heatwaves in North America adding to worries about climate change.

(Reporting by Swati Bhat; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Robert Birsel)

Dozens die in floods in western Europe, others missing

By Wolfgang Rattay and Riham Alkousaa

SCHULD, Germany (Reuters) – At least 33 people have died in Germany and dozens were missing on Thursday as record rainfall in western Europe caused rivers to burst their banks, swept away homes and flooded cellars.

Eighteen people died and dozens were missing around the wine-growing hub of Ahrweiler, in Rhineland-Palatinate state, police said, after the Ahr river that flows into the Rhine rose and brought down half a dozen houses.

Eight people died in the Euskirchen region south of the city of Bonn, authorities said. In Belgium, two men died due to torrential rain and a 15-year-old girl was missing after being swept away by a swollen river.

Hundreds of soldiers were helping police with the rescue efforts, using tanks to clear roads of landslides and fallen trees, while helicopters winched those stranded on rooftops to safety.

The floods have caused Germany’s worst mass loss of life in years. Flooding in 2002 killed 21 people in eastern Germany and over 100 across the wider central European region.

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her dismay.

“I am shocked by the catastrophe that so many people in the flood areas have to endure. My sympathy goes out to the families of the dead and missing.”

Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate to succeed Merkel as chancellor at a general election in September and the premier of the hard-hit state of North Rhine Westphalia, rushed to the flooded area and blamed the extreme weather on global warming during a visit to the area.

“We will be faced with such events over and over, and that means we need to speed up climate protection measures, on European, federal and global levels, because climate change isn’t confined to one state,” he said.

Climate and environmental issues are one of the main battlegrounds in the election campaign, in which Laschet is going head-to-head with Social Democrat candidate Olaf Scholz and Annalena Baerbock of the Greens.

One local man fled Ahrweiler after a flood warning was issued at 2 a.m.

“I’ve never experienced a catastrophe where the river burst its banks in such a short space of time,” the 63-year-old man told SWR television.

In Belgium, around 10 houses collapsed in Pepinster after the river Vesdre flooded the eastern town and residents were evacuated from more than 1,000 homes.

The rain also caused severe disruption to public transport, with high-speed Thalys train services to Germany cancelled. Traffic on the river Meuse is also suspended as the major Belgian waterway threatened to breach its banks.

Downstream in the Netherlands, flooding rivers damaged many houses in the southern province of Limburg, where several care homes were evacuated.

In addition to the eight who died in the Euskirchen region, another seven people, including two firefighters, died elsewhere in North Rhine-Westphalia, several of them in flooded cellars.

In the town of Schuld, houses were reduced to piles of debris and broken beams. Roads were blocked by wreckage and fallen trees as flood waters receded on Thursday morning.

‘CATASTROPHE’

“It’s a catastrophe. There are dead, missing and many people still in danger. All of our emergency services are in action round the clock and risking their own lives,” said Malu Dreyer, premier of the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Further down the Rhine river, the heaviest rainfall ever measured over 24 hours caused flooding in cities including Cologne and Hagen, while in Leverkusen 400 people had to be evacuated from a hospital.

In Wuppertal, known for its overhead railway, locals said their cellars had been flooded and power cut off. “I can’t even guess at how much the damage will be,” said Karl-Heinz Sammann, owner of the Kitchen Club discotheque.

Weather experts said that rain in the region over the past 24 hours had been unprecedented, as a near-stationary low-pressure weather system also caused sustained local downpours to the west in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Rainwater draining into the Rhine, where shipping traffic was partly suspended, was expected to test flood defenses along the river, including in Cologne, on the lower Rhine, and Koblenz, where the Rhine and Moselle merge.

More heavy rain was due in southwestern Germany, on the upper reaches of the German Rhine, later on Thursday and Friday, the German Weather Service said.

(Additional reporting by Matthias Inverardi, Bart Meijer in Amsterdam and Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels; Writing by Emma Thomasson and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Raissa Kasolowsky and Alison Williams)

Tropical cyclone kills at least 113 in Indonesia, East Timor

By Yos Seran and Agustinus Beo Da Costa

MALAKA, Indonesia (Reuters) – Floods and landslides triggered by tropical cyclone Seroja in a cluster of islands in southeast Indonesia and East Timor have killed 113 people, with many still unaccounted for and thousands displaced, officials said on Monday.

At least 86 deaths were reported on several islands in Indonesia’s West and East Nusa Tenggara provinces, while 71 others were missing, after the cyclone brought flash floods, landslides and strong winds amid heavy rain over the weekend, disaster agency BNPB said.

In East Timor, which shares the Timor island with Indonesia, at least 27 people were killed by landslides, flash floods and a falling tree, while 7,000 were displaced, its government said.

On Lembata island, authorities feared bodies had been washed away.

“We are using rubber boats to find bodies at sea. In several villages, flash floods hit while people were sleeping,” Thomas Ola Langoday, deputy head of Lembata district government, told Reuters by phone.

About 30,000 people have been impacted by floods in Indonesia, some already taking shelter in evacuation centers, but rescue operations have been made difficult after five bridges collapsed and falling trees blocked some roads, BNPB spokesman Raditya Jati said.

A continuing storm had also halted evacuations in some places, local authorities said.

Hundreds of houses and other facilities such as a solar power plant were damaged, BNPB said. Ships and motor boats sank as the cyclone set off waves as high as 6 meters.

Powerful currents continued to flow through villages in the Malaka district on Timor island on Monday, even though the rain had stopped.

Some residents there hauled themselves to their roofs to escape flood water rising to 3-4 meters.

“We had to dismantle the zinc roof. We went out through the back door and pulled ourselves out with a rope,” Agustina Luruk, 36, told Reuters as she and her three daughters waited to be evacuated by the side of a muddy road.

President Joko Widodo offered his condolences and ordered speedy disaster relief efforts.

The Seroja cyclone hit the Savu sea southwest of Timor island in the early hours of Monday, Indonesia’s weather agency said.

Within 24 hours, the cyclone’s intensity could strengthen, bringing yet more rain, waves and winds, although it was moving away from Indonesia, the agency said.

Dwikorita Karnawati, the agency’s head, said that the cyclone would be weakening in the next two days.

(Reporting by Yos Seran in Malaka, Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta, Nelson Da Cruz in Dili; Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Martin Petty, Giles Elgood, Kirsten Donovan)

Hawaii declares emergency due to floods, orders evacuations

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – Hawaii Governor David Ige declared an emergency in the U.S. state after heavy rains brought floods, landslides and fear of dam failures, and authorities ordered the evacuation of several thousand people from communities threatened by rising waters.

The move came after a dam overflowed on the island of Maui, forcing evacuations and destroying homes, with the dam’s “unsatisfactory” condition leading to it being scheduled for removal this year, the land department has said.

“The emergency proclamation makes state general funds available that can be used quickly and efficiently to help those impacted by the severe weather,” Ige said on Tuesday.

Poor weather was expected to run until Friday, he added, and flood advisories stayed in place for a second day

The emergency declaration covers the counties of Hawai’i, Maui, Kalawao, O’ahu and Kaua’i, the governor’s office said in a statement, while the disaster relief period runs until May 8.

The Honolulu Department of Emergency Management directed people to leave Haleiwa, a community of a few thousand people to the north of state capital Honolulu.

Hawaii News Now reported that two people were swept away in raging waters on Tuesday. One of them, a 27-year-old man, was rescued by authorities. A search for the other would resume on Wednesday, according to the report.

There were no other immediate reports of injuries or casualties.

In Maui, heavy rains damaged roads, leaving them impassable, with one bridge completely washed out and another displaced, the governor’s office said.

State emergency management officials had said the rains led to the cresting of the Kaupakalua dam in the northern region of Haiku, prompting authorities to open evacuation shelters and urge people not to return home.

Six homes were heavily damaged or destroyed, said Maui mayor Michael Victorino.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Clarence Fernandez & Simon Cameron-Moore)